A league of Landon's own?
By Alexandra Petri
Last summer, some rising freshmen at the elite, all-male Landon School did something stupid. They created a fantasy sex league of local teen girls, ranking them, making draft picks, and even coming up with offensive team names such as “Southside Slampigs.” Then they did something really stupid: they put it on the Internet. An uproar ensued -- you’d uproar, too, if you Googled your teen daughter and discovered that someone picked her for the Southside Slampigs because she seemed like she’d be “fun to play with sexually.” The “sex party” the boys had been planning was called off, and their school suspended them.
Many aspects of this are startling -- including the fact that a group of fourteen year-old boys somehow believed that a “sex party” at which they could score points by reaching various bases had a realistic chance of occurring. Having once been a fourteen year-old girl, I would rate the odds of this as slim, but, then again, I never got invited to any sex parties in high school, maybe because I was too busy retaking the SATs.
But this has only contributed to the frenzy that surrounds today’s teens. Adolescence, as portrayed in the media, seems to be a dangerous realm in which you can’t turn on your phone without receiving dozens of sexts, where juvenile over-achievers run around dousing themselves with Adderall and founding small companies, pausing only to throw the occasional sex party. Now the Landon boys have thrown more fuel on the fire.
Their fantasy sex league, like the continuing “sexting” boondoggle, has become an issue due to the simple fact that all the stupid things kids used to do among themselves are now available through technology. Back in ancient Egypt, I’m sure boys at private all-male high schools used to make papyrus lists of girls they hoped to be embalmed with -- extra points for each cat who agreed to join you in eternity! -- that really embarrassed them when the temple guardians found them under their beds. In the 1800s, young gentlemen from elite schools no doubt created fantasy teams with names such as “Southside Slatterns” and “Opium-Eaters of Loose Virtue.” But because there was no Internet then, no one was the wiser. Even in the early nineties, the fantasy lists might have been confined to a ruled sheet of paper, passed snickeringly from row to row during algebra.
Now that’s over. Everyone communicates online, especially middle- and high-schoolers, so the idiotic ideas that you came up with in eighth grade are now stuck on the internet for renowned New York Times journalists to comment on and Washington Post reporters to describe as “riddled with misspellings, sexual innuendo, and offensive language.” The only thing more embarrassing than having a school administrator discover you objectify women is having Maureen Dowd notice that you routinely spell “sexy” with a variable number of x’s.
In this case, everything worked out. The Internet saved the teenage boys from themselves and the teenage girls from becoming prey, allowing the sex league to be seen and stopped before it moved from fantasy into reality. And the lesson of this for teenagers is clear. Online, there is no privileged teenage world where secrets can remain untold. For better or for worse, the Internet is full of adults, and they can see everything from Facebook photos to fantasy sex lists to that one Livejournal post about how disappointing you found the finale of Lost.
“But boys will be boys!” Not if they do it on the Internet.
| June 10, 2010; 2:26 PM ET
Categories: Petri | Tags: Alexandra Petri
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